Will we really be the ‘dirty man of Europe’ once we’ve divorced from the EU?
After reading an article in The Guardian recently, in typical journalist fashion, I was left with a feeling of foreboding and unease.
After all our efforts, PR, education right down to primary schools, upcycling, recycling, reuse, repurposing and updating Corporate Social Responsibility policies will we just give up? Is our relationship with recycling stronger than the European legislation it’s written on? Personally, I think so.
Recycling is in our DNA, to recycle is now a subconscious action, something we naturally do. OK, we can all be better at it, but the idea that we will all just STOP is unconvincing.
Even before the internet (6 August 1991, yes that’s scary I know) our children have been taught all about global warming and what we do (that means you too), in our everyday life, affects our planet.
So, why am I so confident that we will remain advocates of recycling?
Habits – To get a real feel for what people are interested in, Google Trends is a wonderful place to look. So, the image below shows based on the search term ‘ recycling’ which country searches it the most. This gives a snap shot since 2004 and it’s clear to see the UK (and Ireland) are leading the way. Recycling is in our subconscious – we live it, we want to learn about it and we continue to do so.
Education – Household recycling in Scotland and Wales has improved YoY. Sadly, England and Northern Ireland have seen a decline. This may, in part, be more about education and the staggering levels of contamination from incorrect waste segregation. Wales has certainly lead the way being the pioneer of the 5p bag charge in the UK, way back in 2011. Scotland and Northern Ireland followed in 2014, with England October 2015.
In fact, the prospect of Wales becoming Europe’s top recycling nation is “absolutely achievable”, it has been claimed. A total of 60.2% of waste was recycled – double the figure a decade ago. Welsh Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths pointed to EU recycling league tables which suggested, if Wales was a single member state, it would be in fourth position overall (UK currently ranked 10th). The UK has much to gain from taking on how Wales has engrained recycling into the Welsh culture.